Researchers from Cambridge University claim that sheep are considerably smarter than we have previously believed.
The new research was recently published in the journal PLoS ONE.
Neuroscientist Professor Jenny Morton herded a flock of Welsh mountain sheep and presented them with variously-coloured buckets, only one of which contained nosh.
Fascinating, the sheep were able to find nourishment in the same number of attempts it takes a monkey or a human, viz: seven.
“They have a reputation for being extremely dim, so I didn’t expect them to be so amenable to testing and certainly didn’t expect them to be so smart. In our tests they performed at a level very similar to monkeys and humans in the initial learning tasks,” Morton said.
“When we then changed the rules they still performed as well as monkeys and better than rodents. They are quite intelligent animals – they seem to be able to recognise people and even respond when you call their name.”
The scientists are hopeful sheeps will prove useful for research into diseases that impair the cognitive abilities of patients, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease (HD).